Ever since a red-headed, foul-mouthed toy burst onto our screens with a high-pitched cackle when Child’s Play was released in the late ‘80s, Chucky has become one of the most famous — and let’s face it, most terrifying — characters in horror film history.
Created by screenwriter Don Mancini and most famously voiced by Brad Dourif, this murderous doll possessed by the spirit of serial killer Charles Lee Ray has inspired a flurry of successful sequels, not to mention a spin-off TV series (which airs on US network Syfy), and received the reboot treatment in 2019, with a brand new cast and a plot tweaked to reflect more modern anxieties.
The movies have helped shape the genre as a whole, too. After Child’s Play, a whole load of horror hits (including the Annabelle movies) have borrowed the haunted toy trope for reliable scares, while yet more have copied the franchise’s tonal blend of jokes and jump scares.
Unlike, say, the Halloween movies, the Chucky franchise is a relatively easy one to make your way through, with the films playing out chronologically, until the recent remake of Child’s Play rebooted the timeline and introduced new versions of familiar characters. Whether you’re a veteran viewer who fancies diving back into the world of Chucky, his equally terrifying paramour Tiffany and his target Andy Barclay, or whether you’re a newbie seeking to catch up on horror film history, here’s how to navigate the series in release and chronological order. Be warned: you may never be able to look at a doll in the same way again.
Chucky movies in release date order
- Child's Play (1988)
- Child's Play 2 (1990)
- Child's Play 3 (1991)
- Bride of Chucky (1998)
- Seed of Chucky (2004)
- Curse of Chucky (2013)
- Cult of Chucky (2017)
- Child's Play (2019 reboot)
Chucky movies in chronological order
1. Child’s Play (1988)
A horror icon was born, complete with haunting, high-pitched cackle, when Child’s Play was released in 1988, with the first movie becoming a surprise box office hit.
Six-year-old Andy (Alex Vincent) is desperate for a Good Guy talking doll, but his mum can’t afford to buy him one — until she sees a homeless man selling a doll on the street and manages to acquire it at a cut price. There is, however, a catch, and a pretty big one at that: when serial killer Charles Lee Ray was pursued into a toy shop by police and shot at the start of the movie, he used his dying moments to perform a voodoo ritual, transferring his soul to that same Good Guy doll, named Chucky.
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Andy, then, is now the proud owner of doll possessed by the spirit of a vicious murderer. Chucky (Brad Dourif) terrorizes the family and carries on with his killing spree, bumping off everyone from his former criminal accomplice to Andy’s babysitter, but unsurprisingly, no one wants to believe that a creepy toy is responsible for the spate of deaths.
2. Child’s Play 2 (1990)
Set two years after the events of the first film, Child’s Play 2 opens as the Good Guy company tries to reassemble the original Chucky, in an attempt to prove that there was nothing wrong with the doll after all. Naturally, these efforts do not go to plan, as an electrical malfunction on the assembly line provides the power needed to revive the nightmarish toy, and soon Chucky is back to his old murderous tricks.
Top of the cursed doll’s agenda is tracking down his former owner Andy, who has been taken into foster care (his mother has been placed in a psychiatric hospital for backing up her son and telling the truth about Chucky’s killing spree). Once Chucky has managed to force his way into Andy’s new home by destroying the family’s harmless Good Guy toy, the death toll gets higher and higher — and the doll won’t stop until he can complete another voodoo ritual that will transfer his soul to Andy’s body, allowing him to completely possess the eight-year-old.
3. Child’s Play 3 (1991)
There’s an old saying which suggests that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, and yet as the third Child’s Play movie begins, the company behind the Good Guy dolls are back to their old tricks, reviving their previously abandoned factory to make a new batch of their toys. What could possibly go wrong? Rather a lot, it turns out, when a drop of Chucky’s blood infiltrates the plastic being used to mould the Good Guys, and the spirit of Charles Lee Ray possesses yet another doll.
Though it was released less than a year after Child’s Play 2, the third instalment is set eight years on from the events of that film, and 16-year-old Andy (played by Justin Whalin) is now a cadet at a military academy. It’s not long before Chucky manages to scheme his way into the school, but when he meets Andy’s new friend Tyler, he sets out to possess the younger boy instead.
4. Bride of Chucky (1998)
When Chucky returned after a seven year hiatus, this movie marked a change in direction for the franchise, leaving the story of Andy behind and becoming more darkly comic in tone. It also introduced a brand new creepy doll with murderous intentions.
Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly) is a former girlfriend and accomplice of Charles Lee Ray, who manages to stitch Chucky back together and performs a voodoo ritual to capture his soul within the evil doll once again. It’s not long before she is killed off and her spirit gets trapped in an equally freaky plastic body, dressed in full bridal regalia.
The gruesome duo are soon working together to regain human form, targeting young couple Jesse and Jade (played by Nick Stabile and Katherine Heigl) as potential host bodies. The dolls cook up a scheme to lure the humans away to the place where Ray’s body is buried and retrieve a magical amulet that will allow them to possess the humans once and for all.
5. Seed of Chucky (2004)
In the final moments of Bride of Chucky, we see Tiffany give birth to a baby doll, and that child forms the focus of the fifth film, set six years on from the fourth. With parents like Chucky and Tiffany, you’d think that young Glen (played by Billy Boyd) would be an absolute horror, but their good-hearted son seems to have managed to defy his genes.
Glen is working as a ventriloquist’s dummy in England when he sees an advert for a new film starring Jennifer Tilly (the actress who voices Tiffany), alongside re-made Chucky and Tiffany dolls. Realising that the pair must be his parents, Glen heads off to Hollywood, where he manages to bring them back to life — only to be appalled when he learns that his mum and dad are hardened killers (Chucky, meanwhile, is less than impressed that his son doesn’t seem to have inherited his murderous streak). Things get weirder still when Tilly learns that she is pregnant.
Tilly is not the only star to play a version of herself in this film, with rapper Redman also appearing as himself, in a storyline which sees him as an aspiring director. Former S Club star Hannah Spearritt crops up, too, as Tilly’s agent.
6. Curse of Chucky (2013)
After a few instalments that amped up the dark comedy and embraced self-parody, the franchise returned to its horror roots with this 2013 film, with more gore and fewer gags. This time, Fiona Dourif (daughter of Brad, the voice actor behind Chucky’s signature cackle) plays new protagonist Nica, whose life is turned upside down when a Chucky doll arrives in the post. She allows her young niece to keep the toy, a decision that she will come to regret when Chucky gets back to his old tricks, picking off her nearest and dearest one by one. Why does Chucky have such a vendetta against Nica’s family? It can all be traced back to, you guessed it, the life and times of serial killer Ray.
Just as Curse of Chucky harks back to the earlier Child’s Play films in its tone, it also features a cameo from one very important early character, with Vincent briefly reprising his role as Chucky’s nemesis in a post-credits scene.
7. Cult of Chucky (2017)
After this cameo, Nica and Andy’s stories come together in the seventh film. After apparently killing the doll off in that post-credits scene, Andy has been getting his revenge on Chucky by torturing his disembodied head. Nica, meanwhile, has been placed in a mental institution after the events of Curse of Chucky; she now believes that she was responsible for murdering her family, and that Chucky is a manifestation of her mental illness.
Things take a turn for the creepy when a psychiatrist decides to introduce a therapy technique involving a Good Guy doll, and when a woman named, you guessed it, Tiffany Valentine arrives at the facility bearing a toy for Nica, things get worse still. The hospital is soon infiltrated by a gang of Good Guys, all of which are possessed by a fragment of Chucky’s soul. As well as providing a comeback for Andy, the film also features a brief appearance from Christine Elise as Kyle, his foster sister, who appeared in Child’s Play 2.
Standalone: Child’s Play (2019)
This 2019 film is a remake of the first instalment in the franchise, meaning that it doesn’t slot into the series’ chronology. It’s also the only film in the series not to be written by creator Don Mancini, or to feature the voice of Brad Dourif — this time, Chucky is voiced by Star Wars legend Mark Hamill.
The Charles Lee Ray storyline has been written out, too. In the reboot, Chucky is a hi-tech ‘Buddi’ doll gone very wrong indeed. Buddis are meant to be smart toys with the ability to react to their surroundings, intended as lifelong companions for their owners, but one model is sabotaged by a disgruntled employee, who removes all of the safety protocols before it is sent off to be sold.
The doll in question finds his way into the Barclay household when widowed mum Karen (played by Aubrey Plaza) buys a birthday gift to cheer up her young son Andy (Gabriel Bateman). Things quickly go awry as the toy, who names himself Chucky, becomes eerily fixated on his owner, and starts killing off anything that might stand between him and Andy. He’d have been better off with a Tamagotchi…
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